Bad Timing At The Ledge - Short Story
On an early morning just past midnight, Mark had decided his fight for life would end. He would jump from the eighth-floor story building.
Life had failed him, with her broken promises and broken dreams. Where was the great life that Mark was promised? Where was the success? Where was anything that he was told would be his?
“When you get older the world will be yours,” older folks would tell his younger self. Now, he is older and no greater; less successful, and was lied to. No more. In this world of crooks and thieves where was he to go? Institutions are input to withhold any sense of freedom or individuality Mark had. And his fellow man spits on him when he is down.“Easier to get to the top when this bum is out,” others would say of him. He could no longer deal with the world. He was going to leave it. Not like anyone would notice anyway. Darkness filled his heart and jumping was his solution, his choice, the poorest choice he could make. The only decision that could be considered better (relatively speaking) was that Mark did not try to shoot himself or hang himself. He had already climbed up the eight floors but had not taken that final step forward. He still had time to reconsider.
He stood at the edge of the ledge, breathed one last breath, and said goodbye to the night, the only thing listening. “This is it! Goodbye cruel world!”
But he didn’t jump right away. He froze there. Motionless and uneasy, but still alive.
“So are you gonna do it or not?” A voice called from behind Mark that almost made him trip and fall.
“Huh? Where? Who are you?”
A well-dressed man stood by the sidewall of the roof looking on at Mark as if bored by the situation.
“I’m the guy you met at the deli a few years ago when they gave you the wrong order of bacon, egg, and cheese, rather than ham, egg, and cheese. I’ve come to save you.”
Mark said nothing.
“I’m a demon you idiot,” the figure admitted.
Mark turned back around to the street side of the edge. “So, what are you doing here?”
The demon folded his arms. “Waiting… for you to go.”
“I will!” Mark shouted back at the demon. “Don’t think I won’t!”
The demon calmly responded, “I don’t care either way. Just make it quick. The boss has been nagging me lately.”
Mark prepared himself for the end. “Okay, here I go.”
“You should have just shot yourself. It’s easier for me that way,” the demon said candidly while staring down at the ground.
“If you shoot yourself, I don’t have to walk all the way down there and clean you up. Heck, sometimes I shoot the guy myself but go ahead. Go on. Don’t let me stop you.”
“Okay. Okay.” Mark once again prepared for his end. Sweat poured down his face and his feet were slightly shaking.
But that final step didn’t move.
No matter how bad he was feeling, he couldn’t do it. He has nowhere to go. Nothing to live for, but he couldn’t take his own life. Perhaps an angel was holding him back, or maybe the kid inside him was making his last stand to live.
Mark wanted to die, but he didn’t want to end his life.
“Can you imagine if you jump and a major disease happens shortly after? That would be funny. You think that everyone will talk about you, but then they don’t, because a massive outbreak occurs,” the demon spoke out of term again. “Just get this over with already.” The demon picked up the phone in his pocket and walked away from Mark. “Yeah, I know. I am taking care of it.”
Mark stood there without movement as the cold night froze his sweaty face. The longer he stood there, the more he couldn’t take the last step. The goodness in him was trying to tell him to get off the ledge, to go back inside and continue to live.
“Oh. You’re still here?” The demon came back from his call.
“When I was a kid, my parents took me to the Statue of Liberty.” For the first time, Mark’s eyes saw some of the light in the night. “It was beautiful. I said that I would take my family there one day too. And then to the great statue that I designed. When I was a kid I wanted to be an architect.”
“Oh, whatever. I don’t care”
“I was going to design a great statue that everyone would marvel at. Now I’m jumping from a no-name building.”
“I loved designing statues. I loved the Eiffel Tower. I want to go there one day.” Mark paused as if to acknowledge that moment would never happen if he jumped. “And don’t get me started on the pyramids,” Mark commented; a line he had said to many others in his life when that feature was brought up, for he could go on about it for days. The kid in Mark was winning and convincing his adult self that the enjoyment he knew then, was still here. It never left. He took one deep breath, as tears fell from his face. “I can’t. I just can’t do it.” He turned to get off the ledge. “I won’t let that win.”
Before he could get down, the demon tired of listening to him, stretched out a hand and pushed him off.
“No!” Mark cried, falling to his death.
“Poor bastard.” The demon looked down below. He answered a phone call. “Yeah. Boss. It’s done. I know. I know. I’ll be right over.” He put his phone back in his pocket and hurried off the roof.
Later that morning, a virus broke out across the world, killing many. No one ever mourned the loss of Mark.
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About The Blogger
Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.
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